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Lead Officer Role: 
Welfare & International Officer

What you need to know

  • UCL’s Student Psychological Services is severely oversubscribed, with nowhere near enough counsellors to support the thousands of students who register for support.
  • According to a 2016 report by the students’ union, SPS lacked the capacity to see a full third of those seeking therapy.
  • The same report argued for an increase of £340k to properly fund the services, paying for an additional 6.5 FTE counsellors – enough to eliminate the waiting list.
  • There is also a six-session cap on the number of sessions to which students are entitled.
  • A petition was launched to the Provost to make this demand, and collected over 2100 signatures.
  • The university ignored this petition, and responded to concerns about mental health funding with a number of internal changes to the service – such as implementing a system of triaging – rather than committing against resources.
  • A campaign has now been launched, run by students with the backing of the union and involving several of the sabbatical officers, to fight for additional funding to combat the ongoing mental health crisis.
  • This campaign has already organised a banner drop on World Mental Health Day and is preparing to disrupt Graduate Open Day on December 6th.
  • UCL is a £1.3 billion institution and pays its Provost substantially more than the money that the campaign is demanding.

What Union Council think about this

  • The mental health crisis has to be stopped.
  • The changes made to the service do not address the fundamental problem of SPS’s oversubscription.
  • Triaging for mental health issues is dangerous, particularly when there are insufficient resources to see all students. When the majority of applicants to SPS cite anxiety and depression as their motivation, triaging will force students to compete for resources, and those at the end of long waiting lists are likely to see their mental health deteriorate if untreated. 
  • Additional counsellors are urgently needed. 
  • UCL is a deeply unequal institution prioritising funding managerial staff and unnecessary capital expenditure on buildings over student support services and mental health. This is wrong and has to be challenged. 
  • Lobbying has failed and only direct action will force UCL to invest in mental health funding.

What the Union should do about it

  • Reassert its support for the mental health campaign in the fight to win additional funding, including mobilising for the protest on Graduate Open Day.
  • Organise direct action to force UCL to provide the necessary additional funding for SPS if the union does not agree to the demands of the campaign. This may include protests, banner drops, occupations and any other forms of action that the campaign democratically decides to be appropriate.
  • Send out all-students emails, amongst other communication channels, to publicise these actions.